Most of us reserve gratitude for momentous occasions, but in order to reap the benefits that gratitude has to offer us, we must practice gratitude daily. The biggest perk is that practicing gratitude can help us reduce our stress. And we all could use that right now! There is so much science has proven about gratitude and one of the most compelling things is that living with gratitude has tremendous benefits on our overall quality of life. From improving relationships to improving physical health, gratitude has been proven to enhance empathy and even reduce stress.
Did you know that according to a study published in ‘Personality and Individual Differences,’ grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, and they report feeling healthier than other people? Pretty incredible right?
Gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every single day and the best part…it’s totally free!
Robert Emmons, is a psychologist, and the author of ‘Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier’ and he has reported that merely keeping a gratitude journal can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction. How cool is that? It is as simple as keeping a journal!
Gratitude inspires a more joy filled life.
One of the many benefits you can gain from a gratitude practice is saying goodbye to negativity. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to feel depressed or sorry for yourself when you are feeling grateful.
One of my favorite ways to practice gratitude is through nature. I love being outside because it feels so refreshing and peaceful. There is something to be said about being outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air. The sounds of nature are so soothing too! I love the sound of rain!!!
When is the last time you stopped to smell a flower or admire a butterfly or sit and listen to the rain? It’s in these quiet moments we can gain some time for reflection in our day.
If you’re not already in the habit of connecting with nature, I have some tips to help you get started:
Take a walk or go for a bike ride after dinner.
Find a park to walk through on the weekend.
Pick up trash you see outside.
Plant flowers in your yard or start an herb garden.
One that I’ve always wanted to do is to start a compost in my yard to reduce waste.
There is really no limit to the things you can do in nature to both express and fuel your gratitude.
Once you have a gratitude practice, the best way to deepen it is by mixing up your methods! So, if journaling is getting stale, replace the practice with something else for a few days.
I go between a written gratitude journal and a digital version on my phone. I use the free Gratitude: Journal and Reminders app.
To really change things up, I have quotes and images that remind me to be grateful around my house.
I also made a gratitude board that hangs in my office. I cut out pictures of the things that I am grateful for and I added some inspirational quotes too. This is another way to deepen gratitude through reinforcement...it’s just like a vision board. The goal of a gratitude board is to help you maintain thankfulness for what you already have while looking forward to your dreams. It plays a role in the law of attraction, and it’s the key to happiness.
You can create a digital board or physical board, whatever works best for you. Here are some useful tips on creating a vision board to help you get started.
If you need some quotes, you can read my favorite gratitude quotes here!
There are countless studies have researched the benefits of gratitude and the results are pretty incredible!
So, at IIN I learned that the best way to continually reap the benefits of gratitude is to identify new things you are grateful for.
You might always be grateful for your family; however, repeating the same things week after week doesn’t keep your brain on alert for fresh, new things to be grateful for. So we have to try getting as specific as possible when we describe what we are grateful for. Instead of simply writing, “I am grateful for my family,” write why you are grateful. Like, “I am grateful for my family because they helped me around the house today.”
“I am grateful that my husband prepared dinner tonight,” or “I am grateful for my coworker for making me laugh.”
Part of embracing an attitude of gratitude means taking the time to find the little details that make up the beautiful chaos of your life.
As crazy at it seems, when strengthening your gratitude, it can help to remember the difficult times. We all have experienced hardships. And for most of us, it's the challenges and the failures that have taught us the greatest lessons. So take a moment to look back at all you’ve been able to overcome and how much you have achieved in your life. This allows us to tap into a new level of appreciation for ourselves.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Here are some ideas to help you find a way to show others your gratitude:
Include an act of kindness in your life each day, like hold the door open for someone.
Reward the efforts of others, so if someone does something nice for you, do something nice for them.
Say thank you for the little things your loved ones do for you, things you normally take for granted….like when your husband does the dishes!
Call or text someone and thank them for their presence in your life.
Mail a thank-you note to someone who has supported you.
By teaching our children to incorporate gratitude into their day, we are not only helping them cultivate an attitude of gratitude but it is also a great way to enhance our own gratitude practice, especially because kids have a fresh perspective about the world around them!
Some fun and engaging ways to help the kids practice gratitude are:
Create a gratitude jar- write down, or draw something they are grateful for each day. At the end of the week, review what they added together.
Decorate rocks with gratitude sayings or fun drawings and leave them around the neighborhood. My little ones love doing this! And when we go for a walk and they see the rock in a neighbors yard, they get so excited!
This week we are going to write thank you letters to people in the community such as their school admins or teachers, fire fighters and police officers, grocery store workers etc. and we are going to create a thanksgiving gratitude list.
Take the time to learn something new together, then talk about how the subject you learned about affects the world around you. A great place to start is by watching a science-based documentary. For example, how cool is it that we get to live on the same planet as whales and sharks?! Recently I’ve been chatting with the older two about science and the universe. It’s fun to share gratitude for cool things and to be able to have conversations with teenagers…and have them engaged. (at least for a little!)
Being grateful can indeed make you happy, but being happy can also make you grateful!
By improving your level of happiness across all areas of our lives, we can, in turn, increase our level of gratitude.
So, some simple ways to tap into gratitude are:
Avoid negative media and movies with destructive content.
Volunteer for organizations that help others.
Don’t gossip or speak badly about anyone.
Watch inspiring videos that will remind you of the good in the world.
Including that act of kindness in your life each day.
When you think a negative thought, try to replace it with finding the good in the situation.
Commit to one day a week when you won’t complain about anything. (this one is super hard…currently working on that)
Thank the people who serve you in the community—waitresses, janitors, bus drivers, cashiers, etc.
As always, I hope you find something on this blog or in my podcast that can help you proser and flourish in life! Remember, the more people you share your gratitude with, the deeper your practice will grow.
You can follow along on Instagram too @prosperandflourish!